-Questions & Answers Revealed-
Most common questions during pregnancy answered! Hope you enjoy.
Q&A: Soft cheeses during pregnancy?
Can I eat soft cheeses? I read somewhere that they’re bad for you during pregnancy — is this true?
Answer: Well, kind of. It’s not the cheese itself that can be harmful; it’s the process that’s used to make it. Before you chow down on the cheese, check the ingredient label and make sure it’s made from pasteurized milk. Unpasteurized cheeses can contain disease-spreading organisms that’ll put you and baby at a higher risk for getting sick. They also can carry listeria monocytogenes, deadly bacterium that are more likely to affect pregnant women. Pasteurization is what kills this nasty bacteria (along with other bad organisms). Varieties like Brie, feta and goat cheese are most likely to be pasteurized in the United States, but it’s always worth it to double check. Just make sure to read the label before you buy!
Q&A: Can I color my hair while pregnant?
Is it bad to color your hair when you’re pregnant? Are there any safe products you can use?
Answer : In general, it appears to be safe to color your hair during pregnancy, although there are no scientific studies that have conclusively determined this. There are some things you can do to minimize the potential risks: dye should avoid contact with your scalp, if possible; consider highlights (the dye solution does not contact the scalp and is covered in foil); wait until after the first trimester to color your hair. During your first trimester, you can alternately try an all-natural hair color like henna. Later in your pregnancy, cut back on chemicals in easy ways by looking for dye with little or no ammonia or peroxide. If you color your own hair, pick the brand with the least number of chemicals on the label, work in a well-ventilated room, and wear gloves to keep the chemicals from passing through your skin. If you go to a salon, ask for the earliest possible appointment to minimize your exposure to chemicals.
Q&A: Is caffeine okay during pregnancy?
Is it okay to drink caffeine while I’m pregnant?
Answer : The jury is out on whether caffeine can actually hurt your fetus, but most health-care professionals do recommend limiting intake. Caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it pulls fluids and calcium from both you and baby and will keep you running to the bathroom. (As if you aren’t peeing enough already.) Also, caffeine has no nutritional value and can affect your mood, sleep schedule and iron absorption. And it’s not just the coffee — remember, caffeine is also found in most teas, soft drinks and chocolates. Play it safe by totally eliminating caffeine, but If you simply can’t kick the habit, at least cut back. Some studies show that excessive caffeine consumption (more than 200 mg or one to two 8-ounce cups a day) can increase chances of miscarriage or premature birth.
Going cold turkey can be tough, so try lowering your caffeine intake gradually. If you’re a coffee drinker, work your way down to half-caf before becoming a full-fledged decaf drinker. Exercise and frequent small meals (good ideas whether or not you’re kicking a habit) will help keep up your energy during the withdrawal. If you just like to have a tasty drink on your desk, try mixing fruit juice with sparkling water instead, or customize decaffeinated tea by adding cinnamon, cloves or bits of your favorite fruit. Though herbal teas usually don’t have caffeine, run the ingredient list by your doctor first — some may not be safe for baby.
Q&A: Is sex safe during pregnancy?
Is sex safe during pregnancy? Do we need to take any precautions?
Answer : Sex during pregnancy (or, let’s face it, anytime) is certainly a sensitive topic, but as long as everything is normal and everyone’s healthy, sex is safe from that first positive HPT right up until your water breaks. Don’t worry about sex harming baby — the amniotic sac that surrounds the fetus and the thick mucus plug outside the cervix act as protective barriers. If you’re at particular risk of preterm labor or miscarriage or notice unusual pain, discharge or bleeding after sex, your doctor might recommend certain precautions or limits. And, even if your pregnancy is perfectly normal, warn your husband to never blow air directly into your vagina. In rare circumstances, this can lead to an air embolism fatal to both you and baby. And of course, make sure you know your partner’s sexual history and that he’s been tested for STDs and HIV. (Yes, we know, you learned this one in seventh grade… but it’s just that important.)
Q&A: Is BPA safe during pregnancy?
Should I be concerned about drinking from plastic bottles with BPA while pregnant?
Answer : Yes, although more research still needs to be done. Bisphenol-A, or BPA, is a compound found in many plastic food containers, such as water bottles and cans that hold food. There has been some concern that exposure to BPA in extremely high doses may cause birth defects and miscarriage. Other studies have related BPA exposure in utero with low birth weight and childhood asthma, but more research is needed to confirm this link. In the meantime, it’s a good idea to limit exposure to BPA during pregnancy.
Not sure if your water bottle’s safe? One way to identify plastics that may contain BPA is to look at the recycle code. Containers marked with a 3 or 7 may contain BPA, while containers marked with a 1, 2, 4, 5, or 6 are more likely to be BPA-free. Check the US Health and Human Services website (hhs.gov/safety/bpa) for more advice. [Updated 07-07-2011]
Q&A: Doing yoga in the first trimester?
Is it safe to do yoga? I’m about 7 weeks pregnant but in October of 2006 I miscarried around 9 weeks. I just want to play everything on the safe side.
Answer : In general, it is safe to do yoga during pregnancy. It is important to stay well-hydrated and avoid Bikram yoga or yoga performed at hot temperatures. If you had a first trimester miscarriage in a prior pregnancy and have had no problems with your current pregnancy such as vaginal bleeding or spotting, yoga should still be OK. But, if you are concerned or anxious about exercising given your history, I would suggest waiting until the second trimester before starting or resuming yoga.
Are There Kinds of Makeup I Should Avoid During Pregnancy?
What types of powders, foundations, shadows, liners and lipsticks are safe to use during pregnancy, and which aren’t?
Answer : You already said buh-bye to wine and sushi; you don’t want to have to go without makeup for the next nine months too. But you should take an inventory of what’s in your favorite cosmetics. We suggest wearing makeup that doesn’t contain parabens or fragrances. Parabens are preservatives that have been linked to birth defects, miscarriage and reproductive problems. Phthalates are used for different reasons in different products, but the main issue with them is that they could alter hormone levels (yikes!).
Artificial colors can be suspect too. In color cosmetics, the artificial colors to try to cut out are CI 75470, Red 28 Lake Aluminum, Red 30 Lake Aluminum and Acid Yellow 23 Lake Aluminum. The main makeup product we avoided during pregnancy was red lipstick, since some were found to have traces of lead in their formulations.
Also, check your mascara. You want to make sure it doesn’t contain the preservatives diazolidinyl urea, which releases formaldehyde, or phenylmercuric salts, acetate or nitrate, all compounds of mercury.
Another thing you want to avoid while pregnant is sharing makeup — the last thing you want when pregnant is a nasty infection, and you’re more prone to that now that you’re pregnant. Also, if your makeup has a funny smell or has changed consistency, it may be time to toss it.
Can I carry my toddler while I’m pregnant?
Will carrying my toddler around hurt my baby?
Answer : Yes, for most women, carrying a toddler while pregnant with baby number two is totally fine. But there’s a trick to it that you should know: When you do pick him up, lift with your legs so you don’t strain your back in the process. You’ll probably be most comfortable holding him on your hip, below your bump.
And while there’s no weight limit, just remember that it is possible to overdo it. Any pain or spotting is a sign you’ve overexerted yourself. It doesn’t necessarily mean something bad will happen but it does mean you need to tone it down in the future.
If course, there are some women who should avoid carrying their toddlers because they have a condition like a short cervix or a history of preterm labor. If you’re one of them, your doctor or midwife has probably already told you about your restrictions. If you’re unsure, definitely ask.
Is Acne Medication Safe to Use During Pregnancy?
Are my acne medications safe for use during pregnancy? What can I use instead?
Answer : If you’re using an acne medication and trying to conceive or found out you’re pregnant, talk to your dermatologist or OB right away — the product you’re using might not be safe to use during pregnancy.
It figures, right? Just when your hormones are going berserk (and your skin is out of control), you’re told you shouldn’t be using your old-standby pimple zappers and preventers. But hear this scary stuff: The oral acne medication Accutane is proven to cause birth defects. And salicylic acid, one of the most common over-the-counter topical acne ingredients, has been linked to birth defects too. Benzoyl peroxide is considered safe by some doctors, but we recommend against using it because research suggests it could affect baby’s birth weight. So check your bottles for those ingredients and toss anything you have that contains them.
To play it super-safe, there are some all-natural ingredients you can use to tame your acne, such as lactic acid, tea tree oil or sulfur. All of those ingredients have passed teratology screening, meaning they’re proven to be safe.
Can I whiten my teeth during pregnancy?
Is it safe to whiten my teeth while I’m pregnant?
Answer : When your back is aching, your arms and ankles look like sausages, and your wardrobe choices have been reduced to a handful of tent dresses, no one can blame you for wanting a dazzlingly white smile — it could just make you feel so much better. But to be on the super safe-side, you may have to add sparkly teeth to the list of ways you’re going to have to take one for the team’s tiniest member. That’s because, while there’s no overwhelming evidence to prove that teeth whitening is dangerous while you’re pregnant, we don’t have definitive proof that it’s safe either.
Both the over-the-counter whitening kits and the in-office procedures rely on peroxide compounds — typically hydrogen or carbamide peroxide — to whiten and brighten. There have been questions regarding the safety of exposure to large quantities of these ingredients for anyone, not just pregnant women; specifically, in concentrations above 10 percent, it’s known that peroxide can cause tissue damage. After 20 years of accumulating and studying related data, the American Dental Association says that there are no “significant, long-term oral or systemic health risks associated with professional at-home tooth bleaching materials” that contain levels below the recommended amount. (Although the organization admits that it’s nearly impossible to track adverse effects of home use because problems would have to be reported to the FDA.)
When it comes to moms-to-be, the ADA leaves the decision up to the woman and her health professional with this caveat: “Similar to other dental and medical interventions, questions have been raised about the safety of tooth whitening treatments during pregnancy. In the absence of such evidence, clinicians may consider recommending that tooth whitening be deferred during pregnancy.” The bottom line: You probably don’t want to risk it. It’s best to let your teeth stay less pearly for a few months, for the baby’s sake.
Can I Eat Sushi While Pregnant?
I know I can’t eat raw fish, but what can I order at my favorite sushi restaurant?
Answer : Raw or seared fish can contain parasites and/or bacteria that can hurt baby, so lots of the menu at a sushi restaurant is off-limits. But there’s still plenty to eat. Dig in!
Hot appetizers: edamame, shrimp shu mai, beef negimaki
Soup: miso soup, udon or soba noodle soup
Salad: field-greens salad, seaweed salad
Sushi: eel-cucumber roll, California roll, salmon skin roll
Entrees: chicken teriyaki, vegetable or shrimp tempura
Is asthma medication safe during pregnancy?
Is it safe to take my asthma medication?
Answer: Women who have severe asthma may notice their condition flaring up during pregnancy, says David M. Priver, MD, FACOG. (Fortunately, women with mild asthma may actually notice their symptoms improving while they gestate.) Also note that hormonal changes in pregnancy can cause nasal congestion and shortness of breath that can be confused with asthma.
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, although asthma affects up to 8 percent of women of childbearing age, when it’s kept under control it is not associated with significant risk to mom or baby. On the other hand, left untreated, asthma can lead to serious complications including high blood pressure, toxemia, premature delivery and, in rare cases, death. If you suffer from asthma, the first line of defense is avoiding known triggers (which can include pollen, mold and animal dander as well as exercise and stress, among other things). As far as medication goes, the ACAAI insists that most measures commonly used to control asthma aren’t harmful for your developing fetus. You’ll want to discuss your specific medication with your doctor. Your OB-GYN should be aware of all medications you are taking.
Is it Safe: Hidden Dangers Lurking in Your House
Get the scoop on the top 10 household hazards you’ve been overlooking.
1. The paint on your walls
Nowadays, most paints are made with low amounts of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) or even none at all; but even in small doses, VOCs can be carcinogens, which can irritate the respiratory system, affect the eyes, and sometimes cause nausea and headaches. Since baby’s immune system is extra-sensitive in the newborn stage (and chemicals are 10 times more toxic to babies than adults), Moog suggests steering clear of them when you can.
What you can do now: Don’t worry, we’re not suggesting you repaint your whole house before baby arrives (as if you don’t already have enough to do). But going for a non-toxic paint at least in the nursery is definitely a safe bet. As for other areas of the house, keep rooms well ventilated so that baby’s not constantly breathing in fumes, and if your house was made before 1978 (when paint still had lead in it), have the walls checked for asbestos, ASAP.
2. Your makeup drawer
“Beware of fragrance in skincare products,” warns Moog. (We know, not exactly the advice you want to hear.) “Fragrance-laden cosmetics often contain phthalates,” she explains, “And since manufacturers aren’t required to actually list the fragrance ingredients on their labels, it’s impossible to know sometimes what’s inside.” Scary thought, huh? What’s worse, even labels that claim to be “organic” or “natural” can still be made with toxic ingredients, so don’t be fooled by the front of a label – make sure to scan the list of ingredients on the back too, if you really know what’s in there. And it doesn’t just end with cosmetics. Some nail polish brands are also known to pack their products with chemicals like DBP, formaldehyde or toluene, which have been linked to fetal development issues.
What you can do now: As a rule of thumb with cosmetics, you can always trust a product that uses natural oils for fragrance. But unfortunately, there’s a whole laundry list of unsafe (and semi-unpronounceable) ingredients you should probably steer clear of, like: Parabens, Phthalataes, Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate, 1, 4 Dioxane, Polythlene Glycol PEG/PPG, Propylene Glycol, Triclosan, or Oxybenzone. As for nail polish, you don’t have to avoid mani-pedis forever (phew!). Just make sure to check the label to ensure it’s DBP, formaldehyde, and toluene-free. Think this is all about your safety? Think again. The most common kind of poison exposure in children six and under is from cosmetics and personal care products.
3. Your cleaning products
According to the American Association of Poison Control, 92 percent of all poison exposures happen at home – and 53 percent of those cases happen to children under the age of six. That’s why keeping your chemical exposure (and baby’s) to a minimum is ideal, to say the least. A 2008 study even found that moms-to-be who were exposed to chemicals found in bleach, air fresheners, and other cleaning products increased their baby’s chances of developing asthma by 41 percent.
What you can do now: Read your labels. Ingredients to steer clear of include: Sodium hydroxide, hydrochloric acid, butyl cellusolve, formaldahyde, bleach, ammonia, sulfamic acid, petroleum distillates, sulfuric acid, lye, and mopholine. For more info, head to the U.S. Department of Household Products Database. You can lookup almost any household product on the market, find out what’s in it, and find out whether or not you should be using it. But your best bet is to go green, and check out all-natural cleaning products from companies like Shaklee, Seventh Generation, Method, and Mrs. Meyers.
4. The air quality
Believe it or not, the air we breathe inside is actually three times more polluted than the air we breathe outside. Skeptical? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, it’s actually an open secret — indoor air ranks as one of the top five hazards to human health. And it’s no wonder why, between all the dust trapped in our carpets and couches, and the toxins lurking in the paint on our walls or the cleaning products in our cabinets. But it doesn’t just end there. Even those air fresheners we spend so much money on to make our houses smell fresh and clean aren’t actually doing us so much good in the end – they’re just pumping our air with more airborne fumes we probably shouldn’t be breathing in all day.
What you can do now: Maintaining airflow throughout your home is key, so when the weather’s nice, open as many windows as you can or spring for an air filter. Got pets? Groom them regularly to cut down on dander. Have drapes? Be sure to clean them regularly, too, since they’re total dust magnets. Same goes for the carpet.
Whether it’s in your bathroom or in your basement, any bit of mold in your house is never a good thing and breathing it in can lead to some not-so-fun symptoms like runny noses, sneezing, coughing, and itchy eyes. (No picnic for you or baby.) But in some cases, mold exposure can also cause more serious reactions like skin rashes and even asthma attacks, which could lead to a trip to the doc.
What you can do now: Eliminate moisture in areas that are prone to dampness, like interior bathrooms and basements, by keeping them clean and dry and installing a dehumidifier or overhead vent. Also check for leaks under your sink, in the ceiling, or in air ducts – even the smallest amount of water seeping into your house can cause mold to crop up in unexpected places.
By now you’ve probably heard all about those new laws banning BPA (Bisphenol A) in baby bottles – but if not, here’s a quick recap: The chemical, which makes plastic shatterproof, has been linked to breast and prostate cancer, early puberty, and behavior problems, which sparked legal action. But the whole controversy over plastics doesn’t just end at BPA – time to add Phtalates and Polyvinyl Chloride to your vocab list. Phtalates, which make plastic soft, are often found in children’s toys, household products, and medical supplies, and have been blamed for messing with hormonal balance, not to mention causing reproductive and neurological damage. And Polyvinyl Chloride — also known as PVC or vinyl — often contains lead and can cause cancer, along with harming the immune and reproductive system. PVC is used in a lot of common household plastics, like shower curtains, pipes, and even toys.
What you can do now: While some states have already outlawed the use of BPA in baby bottles, you probably want to lay off buying anything with BPA in it. According to Moog, Polycarbonate plastic also contains the chemical, and is usually marked with the number 7 recycling symbol; while PVC is typically marked with the number 3. So which recycling codes go on the “safe” list for plastic containers? Try to remember to purchase only #1PETE, #2 HDPE, #4 LDPE and #5PP. (Or just make life simpler and keep a cheat-sheet in your wallet.)
7. Your water
Despite the EPA’s strict enforcement of the Clean Water Act, toxins are unfortunately still able to creep into our water systems, putting us at risk for sickness. Wondering what kinds of contaminants can make their way into your water? Get ready: They can range from industrial waste to pharmaceuticals to radioactive substances. Yep.
What you can do now: Investing in a water purifier – whether it’s a free-standing machine, a faucet attachment, or a pitcher with a filter – is definitely a good idea. But you can also do small things to make sure it’s safe before you use it, like running the tap for 60 seconds first to flush out contaminants, or cleaning the inside of your faucet more regularly. (Not really sure where that water you’re drinking is coming from in the first place? Find out.)
8. Your carpet
Though you may not think about it, carpets are loaded with chemicals – they’re in the synthetic fibers, the gluey backing, and even the stain-resistant treatment. In fact, that new carpet smell you may love so much (just us?) is actually your carpet giving off a chemical gas known as 4-PC. But even after the smell of that new carpet fades, the impact of its chemicals still linger, hanging around for months and even years after the carpet’s been installed. And aside from emitting chemicals, carpeting is a virtual haven for dust mites, dander, and dirt, which altogether can really stir up your allergies.
What you can do now: You don’t need to go tearing up your wall-to-wall carpeting anytime soon, but cleaning it often and using high-efficiency vacuum bags will help get rid of dust mites, dander, and other particles carpets tend to trap. And if you’re just about to install new carpeting now, make sure it’s aired out first and contains non-toxic glue. Of course, if you have the option, it may be best to spring for some hardwood flooring, but that’s not always possible.
9. The nursery
Those toxic VOCs aren’t just found in paint cans – they can also creep up in several other unsuspecting spots in your house, including your furniture, mattresses, and even bed linens. That’s why it’s especially important that when creating baby’s nursery, you pay extra-special attention to every detail.
What you can do now: Aside from choosing non-toxic paint and airing the carpeting out first (or going with hardwood), the first order of business is choosing the right mattress. Moog suggests avoiding vinyl, PVC, and polyurethane foam to keep PBDE flame-retardants from entering baby’s body. But if you can’t swing an organic mattress, don’t sweat it: Let the mattress “gas-off” (or air out) for a couple of weeks before baby even sleeps on it. Then top the new mattress with organic sheets and a mattress pad protector. As for the crib and changing table, if you’re buying new, go for ones with low-VOC finishes and preferably nontoxic glues.
10. Your fridge
Sorry — now that baby’s here, it’s time to nix that habit of letting take-out containers pile up until you run out of fridge space. The CDC estimates that the U.S. has 76 million cases of food-borne illness each year – partially because of the way foods are stored and handled. Also, in extreme cases, pesticides found in food can cause long-term health problems (like birth defects and even cancer), which can be worse for your tot than for you, since baby’s internal organs are still developing.
What you can do now: Play it safe — latch the fridge doors closed with a baby-proofing lock to keep baby out once he hits the walking stage. Then help keep everyone healthy by making sure your fridge is not only clean, but also organized (e.g. take extra care not to let raw meats mix with anything else). Moog says it’s a good idea to switch to organic when possible, since vegetables and fruits can be coated in nasty pesticides, while meats can be packed with hormones. Even though the EPA checks for pesticides in foods like apples, potatoes, chicken, and beef, you should still always rinse your fruits, veggies, and meats first – just to be on the safe side.